It’s hard to research adoption agencies. There are many of them, and they all seem wonderful at first glance. This is why it’s so important to take time to get to know an agency through their website, talking to the social workers, and getting personal stories from families who have worked with the agency in the past. You will eventually get a sense of their overall tone and attitude toward birth parents. Birth parents and the child should always come first.
One criticism I often hear about adoption agencies is they are “just businesses” that “just want to get infertile couples babies.” I would be horrified if someone thought our family went to them to pay money for a baby. Or that we just wanted our baby and didn’t care about his birth mother. Most people are not this selfish. Most agencies are, in my opinion, good entities. There is definitely a difference though in the level of importance placed on birth parents.
We didn’t feel at ease with one agency in particular because they kept contacting us and kept talking about “getting us a baby.” It seemed like they really needed us, which was an odd feeling. Adoption comes from a woman’s loss (and a man’s). We, as adoptive couples, come to fill a need–they need parents for the child, and we are the lucky beneficiaries. The agency shouldn’t leave out that part. Focusing on only our happiness and ignoring birth parents’ pain is not a realistic way to approach adoption.
The more we researched open adoption, the more important it was to us that agencies focused on birth mother care and counseling. During the adoption process, we found that sometimes it felt like our agency would be in communication with potential birth mothers first and adoptive families second. If there was an update, we would be the second call, not the first. As hard as that was for us, we realized this was a good thing. Things should be first and foremost about the child, not about us. Am I saying let a month go by without hearing a major update from your social worker? No. But I am saying if you and a potential birth mother happen to call the agency at the exact same time, you need to be okay with them answering her call first. A potential birth parent deserves the support.
Another thing to remember in an open adoption is that the birth mother (and possibly birth father) will be present in your life after the agency is done with the adoption. You want your child’s birth parents to feel as prepared as they can be for the adoption so that you can continue to have a good relationship with them for the rest of your lives. You will be the ones nurturing your relationship as time goes on, not the agency. Adoption can be such a beautiful thing when all parties involved are remembered and taken care of.
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